If you're looking for the perfect laptop for school or university, or you just want to pick one up for a good price, then we've got the perfect list for you. These laptops are available at a snip, with a range to suit every user.


You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a great laptop in 2024, and in this round-up we’ll show you some of the best options between £200 to around £500. These are great options whether you need a quick replacement or you're a student looking for a new laptop.

Many of the major laptop brands – including HP, Acer, Asus, Microsoft and Lenovo – have affordable models alongside their more premium computers, and there’s never been more choice if you're hunting for solid specs at a pleasing price point.

If you can’t afford a new model, you may be better off buying a second-hand or refurbished laptop, although there are some decent Chromebooks available from under £200.

Much like when shopping for phones or tablets, buying a new device in a lower price category is all about being willing to compromise on premium specs or features – and it can certainly be overwhelming if you have no idea where to begin.

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So that’s where this guide comes in. We have compiled a list of the best affordable laptops in 2024. Alongside our expert breakdown, we have some advice on what to look for in a new laptop and, perhaps more importantly, what you should avoid.

If you're still working from home you may also need a new printer, so don't miss our guides to the best printers in 2024 and best budget printers in 2024. Also, check out the best laptop deals for this month and the top university essentials.

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Best cheap and budget laptops to buy in 2024 at a glance

  • Best all-round affordable touchscreen: Lenovo Flex 3 Chromebook, £299 £279 (save £20 or 7%)
  • Best shoestring Windows 11 buy: Asus E210, £249 £149 (save £100 or 40%)
  • Best budget convertible: Microsoft Surface Go 2, £298.72 (no keyboard)
  • Best budget performance buy: Lenovo IdeaPad 5i 14, £449
  • Best low-cost ultraportable: Acer Swift 1, from £399
  • Best cheap 15.6-inch option: Dell Inspiron 15 3000, £369
  • Best for high-end performance: Dell Inspiron 14, £549
  • Best Chromebook deal: Chromebook Plus CX34, £479

Best cheap and budget laptops to buy in 2024

Lenovo Flex 3 Chromebook, £299 £279

Great all-round affordable touchscreen laptop

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3
JD Williams


  • Lightweight and compact
  • 2-in-1 design
  • Touchscreen


  • Lagging battery life
  • Storage limited to 64GB eMMC

If you're looking for an affordable laptop that minimises what you miss out on, take a look at the Lenovo Flex 3 Chromebook. It has a lightweight and portable design, making it perfect to bring to work or school, with a battery life of over eight hours to get you through the day.

It boasts a responsive 12.2-inch touchscreen, which is exactly what we want. It may not be as vibrant or sharp as an OLED panel or larger high-res screen, but it's great value for money, given the price point. It's also a 2-in-1 design, meaning that that you can flip and fold the screen from laptop to tablet mode with ease.

Lenovo puts extra effort into the port selection too, which is great for charging and connecting other devices. It boasts a USB-C port doubling as a power jack, a USB 3.0 Type-A connector, an audio jack, a microSD card slot, USB-A port and an HDMI monitor port— whew!

There are some drawbacks to this model, which is to be expected given its lower price point. While the Flex 3 Chromebook's performance isn't bad, it certainly couldn't be described as good either, so if you're after a high-performing laptop, this may not be the one for you.

Buy Lenovo Flex 3 Chromebook for £299 £279 (save £20 or 7%) at JD Williams

Asus E210, £249 £149

Best shoestring Windows 11 buy



  • Decent battery life
  • Very low cost for a Windows laptop
  • 180-degree hinge


  • Pixelated screen
  • Polarising “NUM" touchpad
  • Fairly dim screen

Asus calls this a “Cloudbook”, but don’t confuse that with a Chromebook. This is a Windows laptop, but it only has 64GB of storage. Asus is saying, “you’d better use cloud storage as there’s not much to go around here”.

It has a compact 11.6-inch display but note that the 1366 x 768 resolution will look more pixelated than the Full HD kind we’ve recommended elsewhere in this article. The display is fairly dim, too, so it will look best indoors.

The Asus E210’s Celeron processor is only going to get on well with basic jobs, but we’d happily use it for writing articles or essays and web browsing. However, that low-power CPU also means the battery tends to last a full day of work. You’re probably getting the idea by now. The Asus E210 is a fairly basic laptop. But it does have a quirk or two.

Its screen hinge folds back 180-degrees, letting you share what’s on-screen more easily. The touchpad also doubles as a NUM pad, although we don’t love the numerals printed into the pad itself. In a pricier Asus laptop, you sometimes get a light-up NUM pad on the touchpad, but there’s no budget for that sort of tech here.

Buy Asus E210 laptop for £249 £149 (save £100 or 40%)

Microsoft Surface Go 2, £298.72 (without keyboard)

Best budget convertible laptop

Microsoft Surface Go 2


  • Great screen
  • Slick design
  • Can be used as a tablet


  • Low performance
  • Keyboard costs extra, and isn’t cheap

The Surface Go 2 is perhaps the slickest budget laptop around.

But is it even a laptop? Search for this computer online, filter by lowest price and what you’ll see is just as much an iPad rival. It’s a sleek magnesium-body tablet, but one that runs Windows instead of iPad OS or Android.

However, buy it with the clip-on Surface Go 2 Type Cover, and you have a laptop more portable than just about anything else on this list.

It has an excellent, if a little small, 10.5-inch touchscreen that is sharper and more vibrant than just about any low-price traditional laptop.

Want the downsides? This is among the weakest laptops in this round-up. Only buy one if you just need laptop basics. Microsoft makes a more powerful version, but that costs so much more that it doesn’t really qualify as a budget laptop option.

Buy Microsoft Surface Go 2 at Amazon for £298.72 at Amazon

Lenovo IdeaPad 5i 14, £449

Best budget performance buy

Lenovo IdeaPad 5i 14


  • Good performance for the money
  • Relatively refined styling
  • Full HD IPS screen


  • Plastic casing

Lenovo makes a stack of laptops in its IdeaPad range. Today’s recommendation for the budget buyer is a specific one, which you can pick up for under £400.

Hunt down the Lenovo IdeaPad 5i 14 with a trusty 11th Gen Intel Core i3 processor, a 128GB SSD, 4GB RAM and a 300-nit 14-inch Full HD screen. We think this will offer the majority of people a great experience for little money, with enough power to go beyond the basics and even play some moderately taxing games.

We chose this laptop because it’s a classic no-nonsense, good value Windows machine. This is the kind of computer we often end up recommending to friends and relatives. Lenovo’s design style helps too. There’s something classy and slightly reserved about Lenovo’s budget laptops that we appreciate. The shape of the keys, the slim screen borders and the layout of the keyboard surround give off an impression that won’t make people assume you bought a cheaper laptop.

Lenovo makes several versions of this same model. Those called IdeaPad 5 rather than IdeaPad 5i have AMD processors instead of Intel ones. Buy the latest models, and you can’t go wrong with either, so shop around to find the best deals. The most important step-up upgrades are to 8GB RAM and 256GB storage, which we’d recommend if the budget will stretch that far. You get more room for apps and can run more of them without the thing starting to struggle with the workload.

Buy Lenovo IdeaPad 5i 14 for £449 at Very

Acer Swift 1, from £399

Best low-cost ultraportable

Acer Swift 1


  • Decent screen
  • Slim and light
  • Attractive metal casing


  • Limited performance in entry-level version

Check out the Acer Swift 1 if you want a slim, light and relatively stylish laptop for portable use. It has a metal casing, which provides that MacBook-like vibe for much less money. And at 1.3kg, it’s the sort of laptop we’d be happy to carry around all day, every day.

The Acer Swift 1 also has a 14-inch Full HD screen. It’s a fairly large display and just as sharp as those of laptops that cost twice as much, although colours aren’t nearly as vibrant as the Surface Go 2’s.

If you want a laptop that feels a bit like MacBook but costs far less, the Swift 1 will do the trick. However, we don’t recommend the entry-level model with an Intel N6000 CPU if you need to do more than word processing, web browsing and movie streaming. While the SSD storage will make the basics feel slick enough, this brain isn’t made for serious number crunching.

Look into the step-up Acer Swift 3 if you need more power. While most versions aren’t quite “budget”, you can currently pick up a well-specced Ryzen version for £530 online. That’s a good buy.

Buy Acer Swift 1 laptop:

Dell Inspiron 15 3000, £369

A top cheap 15.6-inch screen option

Dell Inspiron 15 3000


  • Lots of connection types
  • Big screen
  • Uses Intel Core CPUs


  • Somewhat drab plastic build/design

Dell’s Inspiron 15 3000 is a great choice if you need a larger laptop. It has a 15.6-inch screen, which gives apps more room than the other models here. You’ll appreciate that if you plan to work all day from the laptop’s own display, rather than plugging in a monitor.

Our recommended spec has 8GB RAM, a 256GB SSD and an Intel i5-1135G7 processor. This is going to offer a satisfying experience in a whole bunch of ways. You get ultra-fast storage, with enough room to install a bunch of apps or games and store a lot of files.

Its general performance is excellent, and the Intel Xe graphics hardware can handle challenging games like The Witcher 3, Fortnite and GTA V remarkably well.

Get this version, and you have the same amount of power as some laptops over £1000. The design is practical rather than flashy, decked out in grey plastic, and weight of 1.8kg may get a little heavy on the shoulders after carrying the Inspiron 15 3000 in a rucksack for a while. Screen brightness won’t dazzle either.

But if you plan to use a laptop as a desktop PC-replacer, it’s a good bet. It also has a full-size HDMI port, SD card reader and Ethernet port: practical features that mean you don’t have to worry about adapters for plug-in peripherals.

Buy Dell Inspiron 15 3000:

Dell Inspiron 14, from £549

Best for high-end performance

Dell Inspiron 14


  • Reasonably upmarket design
  • Very powerful in this class


  • Lacks high screen brightness of the step-up 7000 model

If you like the sound of the Dell Inspiron 15 3000’s power but find the design a bit heavy and stodgy, consider the Inspiron 14.

It has a smaller 14-inch screen, but this helps to bring the weight down to around 1.4kg. That’s much better for portable use, and the Inspiron 14’s footprint is smaller too.

You also get a design upgrade. It has a metal lid and keyboard surround for a touch of class that makes it seem less like an affordable laptop.

We may be testing the budget here. You’re looking at around £550 for the version with an Intel Core i5, 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM. But with that kind of power on tap, the Inspiron 14 is going to feel fresh for years. With the same budget, you can also pick up the AMD Ryzen 5500U CPU version. They are fairly evenly matched, each winning in different situations, but the Ryzen is technically more powerful and handles some games better.

There’s also a 2-in-1 version with a 360-degree hinge Inspiron 14, but this drops you down to 4GB RAM and an Intel Core i3 unless you’re willing to spend more.

Buy Dell Inspiron 14 laptop for £549 at Dell

Asus Chromebook C523, £479

Best Chromebook deal

Asus Chromebook C523


  • Low cost
  • Metal lid
  • 1080p screen


  • ChromeOS is more restrictive than Windows

Don’t rule out a Chromebook when shopping for a budget laptop. These are often the most sensible buys if the alternative is a very low-spec Windows computer. Why?

Laptops like the Asus Chromebook C523 have lower overheads because the core software is simpler. As a result, they feel faster with a low-power CPU.

The software they do run, ChromeOS, still lets you do plenty. You get Google services like Docs and Mail baked in, and they can run Android apps. There are versions of the Microsoft Office suite apps available for Chromebooks, for example.

Our favourite Chromebook deal at the time of writing is for the Chromebook Plus CX34, available for a reduced price of £279 (from 429).

Stand-outs here include a 180-degree hinge and three-sided NanoEdge screen design to maximise screen space. It's also got a stylish, lightweight and durable design and runs for up to 10 hours on a single charge, making it the ideal option for a heavily reduced and easily portable budget laptop.

Buy Chromebook Plus CX34 for £479 at Very

How to choose the best budget laptop

Buying an affordable laptop isn’t always straightforward if you aren’t sure about specs and features associated with the tech, so here’s some handy tips:

Don’t buy a laptop with a hard drive

Years ago, all laptops had hard drives used to store data, documents and other files. However, any laptop that runs off a hard drive feels annoyingly slow these days.

A laptop with an SSD drive is ideal, but the even more affordable eMMC [embedded Multi-Media Card] storage is better than a standard hard drive.

The large amount of storage hard drives offer may seem irresistible if budget is tight, but we recommend buying a laptop with smaller-but-faster storage. You can always pick up an external hard drive for cheap file archiving further down the line.

Avoid TN screens if possible

Look at the specs page of a laptop for a mention of this. It may also be called SVA, which some manufacturers use to signify standard viewing angle. Instead, you should aim to get a screen described as IPS or WVA (wide viewing angle).

This basically tells us it doesn’t have a TN (twisted nematic) screen. Why the TN hate? Unfortunately, these displays look pretty bad unless you view them straight on, and even then just don’t look as good as IPS/WVA displays because they tend to have very low contrast. The TN screens in budget laptops do, anyway.

These are your two red alert messages. Avoid hard drives and TN screens, although the latter may be unavoidable if you’re looking to spend as little as possible.

Know your laptop processors

There’s more to consider but it all largely depends on your budget. However, if you want great performance, be sure to look for a laptop with an 11th generation Intel Core series processor or a 5th generation AMD Ryzen. These are solid.

You don’t tend to find them in ultra-cheap laptops, leaving you with Intel Celeron and Pentium processors. These will do the job just fine for simple work, like writing documents, web browsing and video streaming. But if you want to use Photoshop, edit videos or play games, it’s worth saving a bit more for a powerful laptop.

Most of the laptops here use Windows. We’ve also included a Chromebook, which is a fantastic option if you want to spend £200-300. Basic navigation in Chromebooks tends to feel a little faster than in Windows 10 when dealing with a low-end CPU, and while they can’t run Windows apps, you can download Android apps for them.


Want affordable tech? Read our guides to the best budget smartphone, best budget tablet, best budget wireless earbuds and best budget smartwatch. Plus, you can save on the latest gadgets with the best Samsung Galaxy S24 deals.